Obstacle Course Racing, or OCR, has become a popular way to get people off their couches and back working out. My husband and I have completed The Warrior Dash, Down & Dirty, and Tough Mudder. I was in the process of training for a Spartan, but that race is now on hold until 2016.
OCR isn’t just about working out. It’s really about overcoming some of your greatest fears and pushing yourself to accomplish more than you thought you could. It also shows you how much greater you can be when you help others out and work together to accomplish things you might not otherwise be able to complete on your own.
Tough Mudder has been the toughest race I’ve ever completed. Our course was over 13 miles long and had over 25 obstacles. I’ll never forget willingly jumping into freezing cold water full of ice cubes and having to convince my brain to allow my body to swim underwater to get under the obstacle in the middle of the freezing water pit. I hate to be cold! I had to overcome it in order to get through the very first obstacle of the race or quit. There was no quit in me!
Electricity is not my friend. I ran into an electric hog fence when I was a little girl. To this day, I still remember how it locked up my jaw and made my teeth vibrate. It burnt a small, red line across my stomach, and my bones ached for days afterwards. Needless to say, I’m petrified of hot wire fences. The Tough Mudder race we ran had three electrical obstacles. We watched hundreds of people walk around them and refuse to even attempt them. Not me! I crawled through a trough of muddy water with them hanging all around me. As I crawled out, I got the fire knocked out of me, and it literally threw me out of the obstacle pit onto the ground. The memories of my childhood flashed before me. It couldn’t have even been a half a mile before the next electrical obstacle had to be crossed. I had to crawl into a dark room with all these electrical wires hanging down all around me. I remember the lightning like flashes as others were shocked and the screams and moans from those that were hit. That was worse than the actual electricity itself because there was nothing I could do to help them. The last obstacle of the race were these long strands of electricity hanging down from about eight feet high to nearly the ground. You knew you had no chance at all of getting through the obstacle without being shocked. It was guaranteed to hit you multiple times. Remember, I’ve already overcome two earlier electrical obstacles. You’d think that might make it easier, but it really just made it that much harder to convince my brain to run through those strands knowing it was going to hurt. Honestly, I hated that obstacle the most, so my end of race moment was a bit tainted. I still treasure that orange headband though.
I knew the cold and electricity would be tough obstacles to overcome. I wasn’t prepared for the obstacle called the Anaconda. I had to crawl down a small, dark tube into a dirty pool of water. Then I had to crawl up another small, dark tube filled with a lot of that dirty water. Getting down the tube wasn’t that difficult, but getting up the next one opened my eyes to an unknown fear. I found myself stuck inside the tube unable to see daylight and in a position where I couldn’t go forward and going backwards meant going back under the nasty water and failing to complete the obstacle. I was frozen in fear in the middle of that dark, wet tube. It would take my husband and another very, patient man to get me out of the tube and convinced I wasn’t going to die. I survived!
Chemo is really a lot like an obstacle race. It is scary because it is full of a ton of known and unknown obstacles. Some of those obstacles you already know you fear, and others you have no clue how difficult they will be until you are stuck in the middle of trying to complete it. There are physical and mental road blocks everywhere waiting to challenge you. When you go through chemo, it’s easier when you know someone has your back, can give you a step up, or is just there to take your mind off of what’s really happening. It knocks you down. It makes you sore and very tired. It’s mentally and emotionally draining. Chemo is the toughest obstacle I’ve ever had to overcome in my life.
Fighting cancer is a lot like going to war. From diagnosis, you are forced to stare death in the eyes and make a choice to fight to the bloody end or throw your hands up and surrender before you even fire your first round of ammo. I was raised to stand up and fight, to surround myself with the tools I’d need for battle, and to fight until the bloody end. Quit isn’t a word in our vocabulary. Struggle is. Struggle comes before success. Struggle creates strength to finish the race.
Chemo has beaten me up pretty bad this round from an emotional stand point, but I realize today that I’m stronger for it. This battle is here for a purpose too. I’ve survived. I continue to move forward getting one step closer to the finish line where a healthier, stronger, more complete woman will stand tall and full of faith in a God that can never be beaten.